Illegal construction of madrassas on the rise

Zahid Gishkori April 15, 2010

ISLAMABAD: Illegal construction of mosques and madrasas are on the rise in the federal capital, Express Tribune learnt on Wednesday.

For the past many years, various religious institutions have been constructed without legal permission of Capital Development Authority. In a survey conducted by Express Tribune, it was revealed that there are around 372 mosques and madrasas in the capital city. Out of these, 61 have been constructed illegally.

Director Urban Planning Development Ghulam Sarwar Sindhu said, “It seems that some people have set up business practices in the name of religion.” However, he said that authorities were taking strict measures against those involved in this business. He also added that officials hesitate to take strict measures fearing any confrontation.

A senior official of CDA on condition of anonymity said despite “all out efforts” by the civic body to remove unauthorized mosques and madrasas last year, the CDA could not remove more than 5 of them due to strong reaction of clerics.

The director Urban Planning Development of the CDA also added that he took action against some illegal mosques a year back, like Masjid Ameer Hamza at Murree road and Jamia Ashrafia. However, the ulema lobby created hurdles. Director Enforcement CDA Faiz Muhammad said, “There is a pressing need to register these mosques and madrassas in the capital to avoid a future incident like Lal Masjid,” he said. He added that some elements extended their businesses in the name of Islam.

Some clerics built their houses in the mosque area and gave a portion on rent, he added. Faiz Muhammad said that the authenticity of three mosques- Masjid Suffah in I-8, Jawa Hotel in I-9 Markaz and one near Wilson-was being gauged at the moment. Giving details about the legal procedure for building a mosque in Islamabad, Deputy Commissioner Amir Ali said that land for mosques is allocated by CDA. Following that, clearance by police and intelligence agencies is required.

Later, the notified mosque committee is permitted to construct the mosque under prescribed parameters.

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